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Small Business Trends – Don’t Make These 5 Social Media Branding Mistakes

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January 8, 2015

By Marie Alonso

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Now more than ever, social media is providing businesses with the platform, exposure and increasingly visual opportunity to create, promote and validate branding. Social media for B2B and B2C enterprises of all sizes, markets and disciplines is ripe for brand engagement — but tweet carefully! The most creative social media branding campaigns can crumble with one poorly timed post.

The key to social branding success in 2015 for businesses will be social ownership. What is social ownership? Social ownership is the responsibility every business has to appropriately and consistently nurture, maintain and share its unique philosophy, integrity and corporate purpose. Social ownership is the recognition by competitive businesses today of the communication and marketing power of their social media platforms — and the respect and care with which they must present their social content. Social ownership is the social media commitment a business makes toward its content, its target audience — and, most important, its reputation.

To ensure your social ownership is pristine, and your social branding is on target, don’t make these social media branding mistakes:

Failure To Blog

If you don’t realize your social identity includes blogging, then there is no help for you. Not only does blogging create a thought leadership persona for you, it also enriches your social media platforms — not to mention the SEO benefits that can be derived from well executed blog content. Your social branding is critically tied to your blogging performance. Generating timely blog posts that speak to the expectations, problems, goals and requirements of your target audience will benefit your branding greatly and enrich all traditional marketing, social media and even inbound marketing strategies. Failure to blog is failure to accept social ownership that your content is important. Shame on you!

Inconsistent Updates

Taking social ownership of your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and various social media platforms means consistent content sharing. You must update your social media platforms every day — or at least Monday to Friday. You must update your Twitter more than once a day — no business will ever be brand defined by one lonely, lazy tweet and, if it is, it may not be positive. Pledge to social updating with consistency and energy throughout 2015. There exists a host of tools that can help in scheduling and publishing social updates, including but not limited to HootsuiteTweetdeck and Hubspot. With social media tracking and engagement tools in place, there is no reason for your social platforms to be silent in 2015.

Thoughtless Shares

It’s not enough to publish to your social media platforms. You must care about what you are publishing — and to the target audiences of your publishing efforts. Thoughtless content is directionless sharing. No real theme. No real purpose. Not even a hashtag!

You can create social media fans and experience the benefits of social engagement with followers if you take the time to get a little creative. If you own a car wash, create a #RedCarTuesday incentive and call for images of red cars or promote a discount for all red cars every Tuesday. If you own a bakery, have fun with #CupCakeFridays or #WeddingCakeMondays and feature your signature confections as you call out to social followers to share images of their favorites.

Take the time to give some thought to your social content stream. Design hashtags that fit your service areas — and use them appropriately. Engage your audience with incentives that present solutions, motivation or inspiration to them in some way. Your social shares can make you the most popular car wash — or bakery — in town! If only you gave your social updates a little thought.

Audience Persona, What?

You do realize your social ownership — and the very nature of your social media content — should speak directly to your buyer persona. Your buyer persona — or audience persona — is your target audience.

These are the people you want to connect to with every tweet, share and new post. Think about what interests them and what their professional and even personal demands may be. Speak to them with content that addresses the technologies, trends and news that impacts their businesses — and their personal lives.

Think about what their professional goals are and what common problems they may face in their careers or business segments. Take the time to build audience personas of the people you want to communicate with the most. It’s not difficult to categorize your audience persona — just take a look at your customers, vendors, colleagues and friends!

Poor Humor. Poor Timing. Or Both!

One of the most unfortunate social media failures of 2014 was DiGiorno’s inappropriate use of #WhyIStayed. Following Janay Palmer Rice’s decision to stay with NFL player Ray Rice after a domestic violence incident during 2014, the hashtag #WhyIStayed trended strong on Twitter. DiGiorno Pizza innocently tried to join the conversation, tweeting #WhyIStayed You had pizza. Within minutes, the inappropriate tweet was deleted and the company apologized, claiming it didn’t know what the hashtag was about before tweeting.

Another case in point: To celebrate July 4, American Apparel used its Tumblr to post an image of the ill-fated space shuttle Challenger — exploding. After receiving a load of negative social feedback, the company apologized, reporting that its social media manager was born after the Challenger disaster and didn’t realize the significance of the image.

And let’s not forget Dave & Buster’s promotion of its Taco Tuesday with the tweet:

I hate tacos’ said no Juan ever. #TacoTuesday #DaveandBusters’ 

The insensitive tweet incited complaints, and of course the company issued an apology for its perceived racist remark. What’s the lesson when it comes to humor and timing with social ownership? Never assume what you think is funny — actually is funny. And try to be mindful of seasonal, cultural, trending — and devastatingly tragic historic events.

Social Media Photo via Shutterstock

 

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